Local leaders in Lamwo district have resolved to charge parents a mandatory Shs 1,000 per school child to be paid every term for the procurement of emergency sanitary pads.
The leaders claim that the resolution aims at preventing rural school dropouts and prevent girls from missing lessons during menstruation that exposes them to risks of early pregnancy, child marriages.
Richard Ocen Kwang, the chairperson of standing committee on health disclosed on Friday that several schools lack emergency first aid kits which would help reduce fatalities and enable faster treatment of injuries.
“We really need this Shs 1,000. In only a single school you, find 10 to 15 children every week fall sick and no any other better treatment is given to them, no first aid is even given from school. So what are we going to do? Is this not a challenge to the district? We have decided as a district, that we contribute Shs 1,000, we buy health kits. Besides health kits, we buy some emergency sanitary pads for our young girls in school such that when they are in their periods within the school, they are catered for. But these are not to be distributed to them, these are for emergencies,” said Kwang.
But Godfrey Okot, the secretary for health and education is skeptical about the initiative as many parents have previously always exhibited resistance in regards to such charges levied on pupils. Okot called for proper handling of the collections so as to build trust and sustainability.
However, Kwang maintains that the district will brace for massive sensitization of the parents as key stakeholders to seek their undivided and full support to ensure sustainability of the initiative.
About 90% of girls in rural areas cannot afford sanitary pads that cost between Shs 3,000 and Shs 5,000. Evidence suggests that the period around puberty is one in which many girls drop out of school or are absent from school for long periods of time. Provision of sanitary pads to students was one of President Yoweri Museveni’s campaign promises in 2016.
GlobalGiving, the largest global crowdfunding community connecting nonprofits, donors, and companies in nearly every country estimated that over 1,000 girls miss 6 weeks of school every year and women miss valuable work hours.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that one in 10 African adolescent girls miss school during menses and eventually drop out because of menstruation related issues.